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Finances exert a type a pressure we haven’t covered yet. The pressure to work like a dog only to have very little to show for it.

It seems like we spend most of our adult lives working, because we do. Work really begins around the age of six when you start going to school. But homework isn’t really a thing until at least 3rd grade, which occurs around eight or nine years old. At least, that was my experience of homework. I briefly recall parents in an uproar because their first grader was sent home with large amounts of homework coming through a news feed at one time or another. But, being that I don’t have any children, I don’t know from experience.

There is pressure to get good grades and be smart so that you can get a good job later in life and be successful. You go to school for twelve years, only to go for four to five more afterwards. And as soon as you finish, you’re expected to pay back all the money you borrowed to pay for school. And right out of college, your finances are under pressure.

My husband has some student debt we have to pay off, but it’s not much. We’re blessed there. We also have a car payment and a mortgage, not to mention utilities and insurance. Then there’s groceries, cat food, cat litter, toiletries, cleaning supplies, etc….

Basically, your paycheck comes and goes before you really know what happened to it. There’s a lot of pressure in paying off debt.

The average debt a student generates in four to five years of college is something like $29,000 [1] And almost as soon as that student is done with school they’ll be needing to pay that money back. The pressure is on.

College Wants You To Know

My mom sent me that in an e-mail. It’s pretty funny, but it’s the sad kind of funny because it’s really true. College is a multi-million dollar industry. Without college your changes of unemployment are higher than with a college degree. But with a college degree it’s harder to find a job that will simply pay the bills, such as fast food or retail, because you’re over-qualified.

So, how does one DEAL with financial pressure?

I don’t have a magic answer. It took a few years for my husband and I to be in a place where we could get an auto loan and a mortgage. We had a lot of growing up to do. We figured if we could afford monthly rent we could afford a monthly mortgage payment. It turned out the monthly mortgage payment was $50 cheaper than what our rent was, so we are able to add that extra $50 a month to the car payment to try to pay that debt off a little bit faster.

We are attempting something new this year. Instead of grabbing a bite to eat at the cafeteria at work, we’re packing a small lunch to take with us. Instead of ordering pizza because we’re too lazy to cook, we’re trying to cook in bulk, like Chilly or Beef Stew or some kind of vegetable soup. We can save the extra in the freezer and then let it thaw on nights we’re feeling lazy. We utilize the library! We make a cup of coffee before leaving the house so we don’t have to stop at Starbucks on the way.

These things seem like really simple common sense things to do, but I see people choosing to buy coffee in the morning all the time. If you purchase a cup of coffee every morning for a year at $4 average that adds up to $1,460 a year. A pound of Maxwell House Coffee costs about $7. That pound of Maxwell House coffee can make 30 pots of coffee (I know, I counted!) One pot of coffee makes 12 cups. If you brew a pot in the morning, you can drink one while you wake up and then take another on the road with you. Do this once a day, that’s one month of coffee. So, therefore, you really only have to buy 12 pounds of coffee a year. So, instead of $1,460, you’re spending only $72. Therefore you’re saving $1,388! That’s two mortgage payments for me, or one year of car payments.

When we eventually do pay off the car, we’ve chosen to keep putting the money we would be spending on a car payment into our savings, or into retirement, or wherever. We’re already used to spending that money on something. Might as well make it count.

So, it comes down to budgeting and making choices. By cutting fast food out of our lives in 2014, we’re hoping to see more money sticking around in the bank account for a bit longer. Only time will tell.

[1] CNN Money: Average Student Loan Debt

This post has been submitted to January 2014 NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is a month-long challenge to post once a day on your blog, hosted by Blogher. Each month has its own theme. January’s theme is “pressure.”

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